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Employers still fretting about health care reform

February 3, 2010

As congressional Democrats work behind closed doors to save health reform legislation, they face a persistent obstacle: super-majorities of employers and employees are convinced reform will raise their costs.

An annual survey released last week found that 69 percent of large employers and 67 percent of their workers said health reform, if enacted, would lead to higher costs for employer-sponsored health insurance. The survey was conducted by New York-based benefits consulting firm Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health.

Among employers only, 71 percent said health reform would increase access to health benefits, but that it also would raise overall costs in the health care system. More than a third of employers said health reform would lead to fewer of them offering health benefits.

"While health reform could ultimately provide greater access to health care to more Americans, there is a fair amount of skepticism over whether health reform will be able to curb rising health costs,” Ron Fontanetta, a practice leader at Towers Watson Health and Group Benefits, said in a statement.

Nationally, nearly 60 percent of Americans receive health insurance through an employer. In Indiana it's even higher, at 66 percent.

In an earlier survey, the chief human resources officers of the HR Policy Association predicted the health reform plans would raise the cost of employer-sponsored health benefits by 7 percent to 10 percent each year for the next decade.

Such costs have been rising about 5 percent to 6 percent per year for the previous five years.

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